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The following was posted this morning on “Taking Note” the editorial page blog at the New York Times:

“The Decline of North Carolina, Continued 

An editorial last week lamented North Carolina’s abandonment of progressive policies in the seven months since Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches in the Tar Heel State for the first time since reconstruction.

The piece cited backward slides in areas such as public education, tax fairness, voting, abortion rights and the mean-spirited slashing of federal unemployment benefits for roughly 70,000 residents.

To that depressing list, I would add one more item: the destruction of North Carolina’s public financing system for judicial elections. Read More

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Big money pouring in for judicial elections.  Legislators slashing court funding and trying to eliminate judges.

That might sound like the state of things here in North Carolina, but as discussed in this ABA Journal piece, the war on state courts is being waged in plenty of places across the country.

Says former ABA President Stephen Zack:

The legislature would very much like legislative supremacy, but our Constitution requires judicial supremacy. It’s an inherent conflict that makes our democracy work. Our judiciary tells the legislature when they can’t do what they want to do. As a result [of the conflict] we have legislators, instead of deferring to the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government, treating the judiciary like an agency—as if it were a library or another bridge project—and that’s not what it is.

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In case you missed it, Billy Corriher, a native North Carolinian and current Associate Director of Research at Legal Progress— a branch of the Washington, DC-based Center for American Progress — has an excellent “For the record” essay in the Charlotte Observer.

How Art Pope killed a popular judicial financing program

This is the story of how one very wealthy man stopped a government program endorsed by three North Carolina governors (two Republicans and a Democrat), most of the judges from both parties on the state’s top courts, and hundreds of civic and business leaders. Read More

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Chris Kromm has a must-read post today over at Facing South, the blog of the Institute for Southern Studies entitled “How Art Pope killed clean elections for judges in North Carolina.” 

Art Pope 3“On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, as the North Carolina House jousted over details of the state budget, Rep. Jonathan Jordan, a Republican attorney from the state’s mountain region, decided to help the legislature reach a compromise on a thorny problem.

At issue was the N.C. Public Campaign Fund, a popular program launched in 2003 to help free judges from relying on deep-pocketed — and potentially compromising — special interest donors to get elected. Eighty percent of eligible judges — conservatives and liberals — used the voluntary program, which awarded candidates a grant to help run their campaign if they raised at least 350 small donations and agreed to strict spending limits. Read More

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Despite overwhelming support for the program from judges, voters and former governors, Republicans in the House have stepped in line with the Governor and their colleagues in the Senate and proposed in their budget, released today (at page 12), to eliminate public funding for judicial campaigns. 

Someone is really holding their feet to the fire on this one.